This verse is still echoing in my mind since viewing the movie, “The Nativity,” and attending Christmas worship services and “The Story” production in December. The movie, in particular, portrayed Mary as a courageous, determined, yet extremely humble and vulnerable young woman. This “fear not” passage in Luke 1 is preceded by the statement that “Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be.” (v. 29) Who wouldn’t be wondering (and even worried)? But this was before she was told that she would become pregnant and give birth to the Son of the Most High. The words that troubled her at first were that she was highly favored and that the Lord was with her. Wouldn’t these words bring comfort rather than cause fear?
Maybe…maybe not. There have been times when I did not want favor, to be singled out, or to be called to something that seemed beyond my capabilities. For to whom much is given, much is required, right? But then Mary listens patiently to what her task/opportunity will be. She asks the logical question, “How will this be…? The angel answers profoundly, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…….For nothing is impossible with God.” God doesn’t send blessings and favor and then leave her alone with expectations of perfection. He provides His Spirit, and power, and protective covering, and the possiblity for…..anything. God, not Mary, will do this. All she offers is a willing spirit and an acknowledgment of who she is, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” What an amazing response to any fear she might have felt at that point. How would my life change if I woke up and said these words every morning?
It wasn’t easy for her. She was probably fearful when she told her parents, whose reputation would be tarnished, or when she told Joseph, who could have insisted that she be stoned, or when her friends found out and ostracized her, or when the villagers shamed her or talked about her behind her back. When the fear welled up, she must have reminded herself of the angel’s words, “Do not be afraid………..you have found favor with God.”
I left a space there so that my name (or maybe yours, too) can be inserted there. I think I’d like this verse to continue echoing in my mind throughout 2012.